Monday, November 10, 2008

Still Spooked by High-Fructose Corn Syrup?

by Peter Wynn Thompson for The New York Times

Many Halloween sweets start in the cornfield.
By now most everyone has seen ads from the Corn Refiners Association, claiming that our fears about high-fructose corn syrup are misplaced. Since our kids will soon be loading up on Halloween treats laden with the substance, it’s a good time to consider why so many people find corn sweeteners so scary.

Just this month, researchers from Loyola University’s Stritch School of Medicine in Chicago took a look at the link between kidney disease and high-fructose corn syrup. Using data from nearly 9,400 adults in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1999 to 2004, they tracked consumption of sugary soft drinks, a major source of high-fructose corn syrup in the United States, and protein in the urine, a sensitive marker for kidney disease. They found that overall, people who drank two or more sugary sodas a day were at 40 percent higher risk for kidney damage, while the risk for women soda drinkers nearly doubled.

In June, the Journal of Hepatology suggested a link between consumption of high-fructose corn syrup in sodas and fatty liver disease.

And this summer, a small study published in The Journal of Nutrition suggested that fructose may make people fatter by bypassing the body’s regulation of sugars, which means it gets more quickly converted to fat than do other sugars.

Many scientists hypothesize that high-fructose corn syrup has contributed to rising obesity rates, although others say there is no solid evidence to support the theory. The corn refiners agree, dedicating a Web site to the “sweet surprise” of high-fructose corn syrup.

But we do know that foods made with high-fructose corn syrup are heavily processed and typically lack any meaningful nutritional value. And while the jury is out on the real effect high-fructose corn syrup has on obesity, we do know it’s a threat to the health of the planet.

As writer Michael Pollan told The Washington Post earlier this year, high-fructose corn syrup “may be cheap in the supermarket, but in the environment it could not be more expensive.”

Most corn is grown as a monoculture, meaning that the land is used solely for corn, not rotated among crops. This maximizes yields, but at a price: It depletes soil nutrients, requiring more pesticides and fertilizer while weakening topsoil.

“The environmental footprint of high-fructose corn syrup is deep and wide,” writes Pollan, a prominent critic of industrial agriculture. “Look no farther than the dead zone in the Gulf [of Mexico], an area the size of New Jersey where virtually nothing will live because it has been starved of oxygen by the fertilizer runoff coming down the Mississippi from the Corn Belt. Then there is the atrazine in the water in farm country — a nasty herbicide that, at concentrations as little as 0.1 part per billion, has been shown to turn male frogs into hermaphrodites.”

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have researched this topic years ago and have been trying to inform ALL friends and family. Most people ignore it . . .

I have even printed out information and explained it to my Mother, but she continues to think LIGHT is better. No good!

Our body does not recognize this FAKE sweetener. STOP CONSUMING IT!!!!

nick c said...

Tony,

I know you've flown many times across this great nation, and I'll bet that you've already taken a gander out that window somewhere over Kansas or Nebraska, right? Well, can you say miles and miles of corn fields!?! And I personally remember sitting in that airplane seat and wondering to myself, what do they need all that corn for? To feed America's appetite for the "Real Thing," I suppose. Really sad...

And a dead zone the size of Jersey in the Gulf of Mexico... Wow! There's gotta be a better way to supply our collective sweet tooth! If we could somehow fund a cheaper alternative in which everybody wins. We really have no choice.

James West said...

Hey Tony,

This is off topic but I just need to ask a question. I heard rumors of an Atlanta Fitness Camp in November of this year, but nothing ever came about. What's up?

I'm not really in it for the techniques or new exercises. I'm now, thanks to you, in the best shape of my life.

I'll be honest, I just wanna effing meet you dude, lol.

James West
WestJames12@gmail.com

blessed, grateful said...

Tony,
I just received my 2-day fast stuff from beach body and noticed the first ingredient is fructose? Should I return this? I believe a 2-day fast will help, but maybe I should try the juice route. Please reply as I have a limited time as to when I can return this product.

Anonymous said...

blessed grateful,

"Fructose" and "High fructose corn syrup" are two completely different things.

Anonymous said...

"And this summer, a small study published in The Journal of Nutrition suggested that fructose may make people fatter by bypassing the body’s regulation of sugars, which means it gets more quickly converted to fat than do other sugars."
this is from the article on the blog. Truth be told I'd rather not return the stuff, but partake in the fast. I just want to be 100% sure this is safe, dietarily sound, otherwise why use it?
Wiki seems to say they are one in the same, I'll re-read it before sending the stuff back.

Anonymous said...

okay I went back to google both and seems the stuff I read says HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) is made up of fructose and glucose. The articles go on to say together or separate this stuff isn't the best for you. While I'm sure BB would not intentionally harm anyone, as their goal is to bring health to anyone willing to put forth an effort. I will still return my fast product and go the juice route, organic juice route.

Anonymous said...

to blessed grateful: juice route will be exactly the same: fructose is sugar that comes from fruits (hence the name). So if you eat fruits you are getting your carbs from fructose.

Matt

Anonymous said...

What are the risks of taking one scoop of protein power a day (that has artificial sweetener)? I eat extremely healthy, only drink water and so on.

I also eat whole wheat bread, but I know that not even that is a good source of wheat because it contains high fructose corn syrup.

CT Olson said...

thanks for this - I've noticed, somewhat insidiously, the corn growers have started advertising on kids shows showing two kids eating cereal and kind of questioning the basic assumptions of the critics of HFCS. The younger brother saying "HFCS is safe in moderation" or some such other garbage. Reminds me of the cigarette companies years ago - "there's no proof smoking causes cancer". Yeah right. As this article shows there are many concerns with it. We need to repeat them in response to the industry fear uncertainty and doubt they bring up. It's almost like a political campaign - fight negative advertising with truth - you can't give in!

Pharmacy Mike said...

The point of all those advertisements is that high fructose corn syrup is no more unhealthy for you than any other kind of sugar. Calories from sugar are calories from sugar regardless of the source of that sugar.

Drinking 2 or 3 sugary sodas per day would be just as unhealthy for you if they used cane sugar as it is high fructose corn syrup. The fact is that a diet high in sugar is not good for you.

High fructose corn syrup gets the bad rap more than any other kind of sugar simply because it's used far more often.

Anonymous said...

It is a fact that HFCS raises insulin resistance....this is why it's worse for you than sugar, along with other reasons as well.

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